Fox courting Peyton Manning as 'Thursday Night Football' analyst

Fox Sports has had preliminary discussions with Peyton Manning to gauge his interest in joining the network's new Thursday Night Football package as an analyst with NBC's Mike Tirico potentially doing play-by-play, a person with knowledge of the discussions told USA TODAY Sports.

Fox Sports has had preliminary discussions with Peyton Manning to gauge his interest in joining the network’s new Thursday Night Football package as an analyst with NBC's Mike Tirico potentially doing play-by-play, a person with knowledge of the discussions told USA TODAY Sports.

Those talks included a meeting between Fox executives and Manning at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 according to the person, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

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Manning served as the honorary pace car driver for NASCAR’s season-opening event.

The New York Post was the first outlet to report Fox’s discussions with Manning and the possibility of Tirico joining him.

Both Manning and Tirico have the same agent, Sandy Montag.

Fox outbid CBS and NBC – which had shared the package the last two seasons – as part of a five-year, $3 billion deal for TNF. Tirico had called the Thursday night games for NBC.

The Thursday Night Football gig could be attractive for Manning since it doesn’t require as much of a time commitment as Sunday and Monday games. It also leaves the weekends free.

Manning, who retired from the NFL in 2015 after a 17-season career that included Super Bowl titles with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, has been courted by Fox and ESPN in recent years.

Tirico left ESPN, where he’d worked for 25 years, for NBC two years ago. Along with calling games on Thursday Night Football, Tirico also took over some of the hosting duties once held by Bob Costas, including at the Winter and Summer Games.

Tirico, who has a multiyear deal with NBC, would need NBC’s blessing to work the Thursday night games for Fox.